Fon L. Gordon


At the turn of the twentieth century the emergence of the American romance and religion of the motorcar arose within an historic context that included the World's Fairs between 1876 and 1916. The World's Fairs reified the twin ethos of technology and racial imperatives of exclusivity in the form of Jim Crow segregation and exclusion at home and overseas imperialism. The international expositions between Reconstruction and the eve of the United States entry into World War I were "the most extravagant cultural events" of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.1 The World's Fairs conferred legitimacy on the racialization of mass culture and defined imperialism, technology, and consumerism as the prerogatives of whiteness.